Archive for September, 2007

My Harry Potter addiction

Saturday, September 29th, 2007

Ken and I took a  couple weeks off, beginning Monday, with the intent of doing some work around the house, doing a whole lot of nothing and doing something with Reid. This past week, Reid went to daycare; Ken cleaned, purged and organized his home office and I spent most of three days reading Harry Potter. Like many people, I decided to re-read the books before reading The Deathly Hallows. I was slow to implement the plan and have very little reading time since I fall asleep with Reid many nights of the week. I was half way through the fourth book on Monday morning. I finished it Monday and started the fifth book immediately. I was sitting on the couch and it was within reach. I didn’t even have to move Clio, our cat who was delighted that I would sit for such long stretches at a time. I finished the Half-Blood Prince on Tuesday and again moved straight into the Deathly Hallows. I was maybe 30 pages from the end on Wednesday night when I noticed Reid was getting pruney in the tub next to me and it was later than it should have been. Still she didn’t fall asleep immediately and by the time Ken was able to rouse me, it was 11:30 and reading was out of the question. I was awake at 4:30 on Thursday and finished the book. Melissa lured me out of the house to the mall and so I had someone to talk to about the book. How perfect is that?

Perfect except, of course, for my poor neglected blog. I’ll have to stay away from such rivetting books and get my writing in. What books keep you away from your tasks?

Can 3 year olds be bullies?

Thursday, September 27th, 2007

For a few weeks now, Reid has been telling us that she doesn’t want to go to daycare. At first I put it down to whatever it was making her feel stressed about growing up and, since she hasn’t provided a reason, I’ve let it go. On Monday when she said again that she didn’t want to go to daycare, I asked her why. She didn’t answer but I pressed, asking if her daycare friends were being nice. She said they were. I asked if any of her daycare friends was being not nice. She named a little boy. He pulled her “braidses”, she said. Oh, the mama-angst that cause. Did you see me write that it’s been weeks that she hasn’t been keen on going to daycare? Of course, she never complained once she was *at* daycare or said anything in the evening. Mama-guilt is not rational. I limited myself to “I’ll talk to the teachers and you will need to go to daycare.”

I spoke with the teacher on duty when I dropped Reid off. The teacher said that the little guy in question is a “busy little kid” but that they hadn’t noticed any negative interactions between him and Reid. She said they’d keep a particular eye on them. When we were camping in August, a few times Dylan took a toy from Reid and she didn’t react at all. She is a pretty calm kid in this regard. That night another teacher told me that they’d changed the seating arrangements and Reid was no longer sitting next to the little guy.

Reid expressed no reservations about daycare on Tuesday morning. After gymnastics, I asked Reid how her day had been. She said that it had been a good day, that “even Boy X had had a good day!” Boy X isn’t his real name, X isn’t even his initial but he is only 3 and I don’t want to damage his reputation. He is new to the class, maybe even to daycare.

Still, I wonder, does it count as bullying when a 3 year old is acting to make another 3 year old not want to go to a shared place? I think maybe it is bullying, even when a 3 year old does it, but I don’t think labelling Boy X as a bully is right. I’m pretty sure that Reid would tell you that she was bullied, if she understood the concept though. Let’s label Boy X’s behaviour and not him. There is such a fine line between “boys will be boys” and  my daughter not wanting to go to daycare because of another child. (I hope that I’m not gender stereotyping.) If your child is or has been a Boy X, good luck to you. I imagine it is hard for you to figure out, too. If there is anything Reid and I can do to help change how he relates to her, please let me know. I’m sure he’s just as sweet as she is.

And if you know of a book that talks about bullying in a way that a 3 year old would understand, please let me know. Everything I saw seemed to be geared to grades 2 and above.

Fall Fair at Upper Canada Village

Tuesday, September 25th, 2007

It’s fall fair time in our part of Ontario and Upper Canada Village is now exception. Reid and I headed there on September 16th, after a leisurely breakfast at home and a snuggle with Daddy (her, not me, more’s the pity). After we resolved the small keys in car issue, we joined the rather large queue at admissions and went in.

The village had more people in attendance than I remember from others visits. I wonder if it’s that the fall fair is so much more interesting or that there are fewer diversions mid-September than when we visited earlier in the summer. There wasn’t a bottleneck anywhere to interfere with our visit, though. I’m glad when museums get lots of visitors since it would seem they’d be harder to close.

We went first to the fair grounds and started with some apple cider, bread and cheese. Oh, and I bought us some fudge but Reid got distracted by the animals and I ate her piece. All of the refreshment were 25 cents a serving. There were extra horses, sheep and ducks on site for the fair or at least there were animals we’d never seen before. There was also a pair of geese in a crate. A woman was telling her child about the “ducks” and I had to check the label to be sure that they were actually geese. As Reid peered into the crate, she asked if they were ducks. I was so hoping that the other mother wouldn’t be listening as I corrected Reid. She was, of course, and so I explained that I had had to read the card to be certain.

We had our lunch at Willard’s Hotel – a huge! sausage (according to Reid) and fried potatoes – and while there I discovered that my season pass not only gets me in for free – after the 2 visit equivalent cost of the membership – and offers a 30% discount on other admissions I purchase but also a 10% discount at Willard’s Hotel. Yes, the place we’ve eaten at on each of our 6 visits would have given me a discount if only I’d shown my card. The fellow who was explaining this to other diners also mentioned a discount at Fort Henry in Kingston. I must read the card to see what else I’ve been missing.

After lunch, I tried without success to convince Reid to have a nap. She top half was willing to assume a napping position but her legs and voice were too busy to be still. After 15 minutes without seeing a slow blink, let alone closed eyes, I gave up and we went back to that swing we discovered on our last visit. After a bit, we returned to the fair grounds to see a bit of the horse competition and then we went to join in the children’s games and races. Reid leant her strong muscles to one of the tug-of-war teams but it was a lost cause. At first, she seemed a bit perplexed by the whole thing since I hadn’t had time to explain what would be happening.

Next, Reid took part in the sack race. The bag came to her underarms but she wasn’t worried by that. Her eyes sparkled from the moment she was handed the flour sack until she jumped across the finish line. Reid and another little girl were soon left behind as the big kids hopped away. Each little girl fell at least twice but the costumed interpreters stood them back up and the girls hopped on. It was a long course for such short legs but Reid finished to great cheers. It’s too bad that the other mama “rescued” her daughter. Reid was proud of herself for finishing – as well she should have been. Both activities netted Reid a candy stick and so she was particularly happy and I had to be equally vigilant to keep her from opening and eating all of them.

Reid wasn’t willing to pair with a stranger for the 3-legged race but we did watch. The fastest pair was maybe 3 or 4 years old. They’d been giving a slight headstart but I’m not sure they needed it. I wonder if the shortness of their legs was the advantage or that they’re used to being dragged around by their parents. We also watched the wheel barrow races. Reid wasn’t interested in participating and since this seemed the activity most likely to cause an injury, I didn’t press the issue. She has asked us to walk her like a wheel barrow since then. Maybe she’ll want to be in the race next year. I told Melissa that if she can’t go next year that I may borrow one of her kids for the day. The final activity for the children was a ring toss. The post that the kids were aiming for was taller than Reid. She still managed to hit the post with a couple of her rings and that was worth a smile.

After watching a bit more of the medicine salesman/magician’s show, we went looking for the sheep. They’d moved from next to the Tinsmith’s shop – a place that doesn’t interest Reid in the least – to the hill next to the woollen mill. A few of the sheep came up to the fence and we spent quite a while feeding them some of the grass and weeds from our side of the fence. I’m not sure that the grass was greener where we were but the sheep seemed to enjoy being hand fed.

With my keys in hand where they belonged, we went to the parking lot before they locked the gate, not wanting a repeat of our last visit to the village when we were had the near miss. Reid ate most of her hamburger before falling asleep. I’d hope that she would stay that way but no such luck…

If ever you’re planning a trip to Ottawa, consider whether the Upper Canada Fall Fair will be happening round about then. It really is worth the consideration.

Are you there, Technorati? It’s me, Barbara

Sunday, September 23rd, 2007

With apologies to Judy Blume and her fabulous Are you there God? It’s me, Margaret.

I started writing this blog as a way of archiving the stories I was writing to send to far flung family members. At first, I told no one, left no comments on other people’s blogs with a link back and generally tried to find my voice. In those early days I couldn’t decide if I should be writing myself into the stories in the third person or remaining a narrator, writing missives to Reid, referring to Ken as Daddy and other friends and relatives by their relationship to Reid, and that sort of thing. Over time, I decided I wanted to join the conversation and invite others in, too. I’m not all the way where I need to be yet, I forget to ask questions to inspire comments but there is always hope.

I’m looking for traffic, too. Dani at Postcards from the Mothership is likewise seeking some validation from Technorati and Google since she lots moved her blog onto her own domain. She proposed a link-building exercise and I said, “count me in.” A few other likeable ladies expressed interest in a little link love, too. I invite you to visit their sites and if *you* would like to feel some link love, just leave a comment.

Postcards from the Mothership
Drake Update
Humpty Dumpty House
Lou Lou’s Views
Lee’s Things
most / least
Gliding through motherhood
mean old mommy
Kerith’s Korner of Momdum

One last visit to Daddy’s museum

Saturday, September 22nd, 2007

Reid and I went downtown to Ken’s museum after supper at Melissa’s Thursday night. He has decided that it takes too much from him – he puts in too much time and it causes too much stress to be worth going. The regiment doesn’t seem to care about the museum and it’s hard to deal with such indifference over a long period. He agreed to stay on as regimental historian. Thursday was his last night a curator, though.

Reid walked confidently across the drill hall floor and started to run when she got closer to the museum (it’s a little building inside of the much larger drill hall). She misses him when she doesn’t see him after daycare. The door is too heavy for her to open but when I opened it, she walked right in and headed for the spot where Ken is usually standing. There were 4 adults in the way, though, and despite (or maybe because of) their enthusiastic greeting Reid stopped dead in her tracks until she caught site of Ken and then she scurried over to him.

As we drove home, I told Reid that Ken wouldn’t be going to the museum anymore, that he would be staying home to research and write stories about the soldiers from a long time ago. Reid considered for a moment and suggested that he should include the letter “d”. She recommended he use a big “d” and also little “d’s”. Ken agreed that he would do that and then Reid started talking about how he should also use the letter “k”. He said he would do that, too.

With Reid suggesting the letters for Ken to use when he writes and me editing what he has written, you should expect another book in no time. Well, Reid and I would have to leave him time to do the writing, too, I guess. Being an active parent of a busy 3 year old definitely takes time.

Day trip tips: International Plowing Match

Friday, September 21st, 2007

Some people pay lots of money to a tour company to research and develop an itinerary for them in an exotic locale. Not the sort of people that read this blog probably, but some do, I’m sure of it. In the spirit of the personal shopper, which I’ve only heard about on television, I’m offering a day trip plan for the International Plowing Match and Country Festival that will work for anyone living in Ottawa, Kingston, Brockville and all points in between who are willing to drive for about an hour and then spend a few hours at the International Plowing Match.

Since there’s a bit of a drive involved, I’m recommending that you leave home just before naptime. For us, that’s pretty much anytime after 11:30 and since Reid has Kindermusik until 11:00, we’ll feed her lunch in the car and then drive while she sleeps. Maybe I’ll even sleep. The helpful Plowing Match folks have provided a map of Eastern Ontario as well as driving directions for a variety of routes. I particularly appreciated the advice in the Planning Your Trip section that recommends planning your route and that police will be stationed to maximize traffic flow and that “Taking a ‘shorter route’ may actually take longer”. It’s a good piece of life advice really – things aren’t as simple as they seem.

Once you get to the parking lot, you’ll probably still be far from the tent city and also from the plowing fields but your adventure will be beginning. A tractor pulling a wagon will pick you up – there will be places to congregate – and your kids will be excited by the ride. If you’re waiting for a full wagon, talk with the driver as she or he is liable to be a local farmer who can share thoughts on what the Plowing Match means to a practicing farmer. For this farm girl who now lives in a city, it’s a trip back to childhood when my dad would take me along and spend far too much time looking at the equipment when there was candy and free stuff beckoning.

Check the plowing schedule when you first arrive. You may want to go straight to the plowing field immediately. Just make your way to the pick up area for a ride out to the plowing fields. I’ve never seen the plowing competition myself but I know that there are some competitors who use tractors and others use horses to pull the plows. I think Reid and Ken especially will like to see the process.

The tent city will have agricultural and technological exhibits, and stalls with quilts and the work of other artisans. There will be more tractors than you’ve ever seen before and bigger ones than you can quite imagine. There will be salesman promoting miracle products, some like the snake oil salesman of village fairs in 19th century, and others with the usual vacuums and knives. You don’t have to buy anything but choose the showiest and watch the performance. There are 4 stages with performers and 1 that features horticulture displays. There are a few so-called “edu-spots” where your kids will be able to see the Croskery Woodlot and Living with Nature Tent, the technology used in farming and costumed interpreters depicting the history of Leeds-Grenville. Watch out for the corn cob mascot as you walk around. And avoid the politicians so you don’t have to deal with the disappointment that one mom had to face.

Find some fudge. There is at least one vendor – I heard him interviewed on CBC’s Ottawa Morning. Share it with your kids if you have remembered to bring the diaper wipes. If not, eat it quietly once the kids are asleep. They would probably enjoy the cotton candy more. And you’ll have to eat some of it too so that the kids don’t get tummy aches. That’s the sort of sacrifice that a good parent makes.

As you walk around tent city, there will be lots of swag (stuff we all get). Watch out for the cotton bags – you can use them when you go shopping. Try to be choosy about what you put in them, though. Most of it will only need to be recycled when you get home. We picked up some colouring pages and farm stickers last time we were at a plowing match.

The International Plowing Match is open from 8:30 to 5:00 and closes Saturday, September 22. Stay until the very end and then find a place to stop for supper. It’s going to be a warm day – maybe even a picnic in a park along the drive home. Don’t drive and eat at home if you can avoid it. There’s nothing that kills the joy of a fun day then arriving home with tired and hungry kids who are impatient for supper.

Have a good day. If you do make it out, I’ll be the one with Digital Rebel and the husband who makes an inappropriate finger gesture when the camera is pointed his way.

Different is good

Thursday, September 20th, 2007

I was surprised to read today on the CBC website that Nova Scotia had decided to allow same-sex couples to list both names on a child’s birth certificate. Not surprised in the sense of being opposed but surprised that this hadn’t been in place in all Canadian provinces for some time now. Same-sex marriages are legal in Canada. It seems to be a long time that adoption has been open to same-sex couples. I guess I just thought we, as a nation, had moved from judging families to figuring out how to support them. So, here’s to Nova Scotia. From the Ontario government site, we seem to still require a father and a mother. I look forward to that changing soon.

Customizing Daddy’s computer

Thursday, September 20th, 2007

Ken got a new laptop last Saturday. He did some online research, narrowed his decision to 2 models and walked over to Future Shop to compare them in person. The Future Shop is somewhat notorious (at least in our family) for being a difficult location in which to attract the attention of sales people but it is within walking distance and it did have the laptops Ken wanted. After waiting to be noticed for 10-15 minutes – remember Ken is 6’2″ – Ken came home. He decided on his laptop and ordered it online with an in-store pick-up. When I went to pick it up
the next day, they’d pulled the wrong computer off the shelf and I had to wait while they retrieved it. Ken was happy to see it but noted that
if only CompuSmart had had one, he’d have bought from them. Strong store loyalty, eh.

As he was showing the laptop to Reid and me, I teased him that I still had lots of stickers from the Emerging Technology conference in San
Diego (remember the San Diego stories?) and also from BlogHer 2007 in Chicago (oh, and the Chicago stories were good, too) and said I wanted to be the first to add a sticker to the shiny case. Ken said that, while he didn’t intend to be using the enclosed polishing cloth to keep the case shiny, he didn’t understand why people feel the urge to put stickers on their laptops. Reid didn’t seem to be paying much attention to the exchange but was busy at her easel. She walked over to Ken’s computer and stuck a purple foam fish onto the case. I guess she listens even when she isn’t looking at us. If you can imagine one the laptops advertised in the Hewlett Packard advertisements “Get your shine on” with a purple foamy on it, that’s what Ken’s new computer looks like.

We both need to go to sleep

Thursday, September 20th, 2007

Reid didn’t sleep well Wednesday night and that means that I didn’t sleep well either. Ken had to go to a meeting in the evening and so my plan for Reid and me was simple – call Grandma Joyce, relaxing bath for Reid (with a little stress around the hair washing part) and early to bed. What really happened:

1.  Reid was a little wild thing while I had Grandma Joyce on the phone and was interested in talking only if I let her stay in the bathroom where the water was running into the tub, which would have been the same as not talking since Grandma Joyce couldn’t have heard her;  
2.  I had to threaten not to read stories to get Reid into the tub, even though she had chosen which bathroom to use and had been in charge of turning the water on and off . I wish she would read the parenting advice books and columns that say that kids will do what you ask if they make decisions or help in the preparation;
3. When we finally headed for bed, Reid asked to go to Daddy’s bed and I agreed. We read four of the new Clifford books we got from Scholastic, and One Fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish by Dr Seuss (the latter while I was combing and braiding her hair). She wondered about reading another and I had to tell her that we both needed to go to sleep, right now. By the time I turned of the light we were late. I thought of stopping reading sooner but I didn’t want her to go to sleep remembering only the prodding and bossing that had happened and I’m not sure that she would have been asleep any earlier in the long run. This way she had a chance to wind down before trying to sleep. Me, I was asleep pretty quickly, as well.

At 3:50am or so I woke up and decided that I might as well get out of bed. We’ll have to see how Reid does when she wakes up and whether the extra 15 minutes does her in.

It’s either fund a new wing at the library or keep track of the books that are due

Wednesday, September 19th, 2007

Ken has long teased me that I’m funding a new wing at the library through my overdue fees. When Reid was born, I vowed to straighten up and fly right. There’s nothing to highlight your faults and bad habbits than thinking of passing them on to your kids. I’ve made that vow before, usually after a period of tracking where each penny goes, with mixed success. The city libraries tries to be helpful and provide a printout of the titles and the due dates of the books that you are signing out. My problem is that I visit the library several times a week and often go to different branches. I’ve learned 4 good ways to cut down on the overdue books:
1. Ask for a printout of *all* books we have signed out, rather than just the newest acquisitions as the default is. (Thanks, Melissa for telling me about this.)
2. Go to the library’s website to view what books are due when. They list the soonest due first for ease of figuring out which ones to hunt for first.
3. Online renewal is always an option, even if you’ve finished the book but can’t put your hands on it. Beware of relying on this, though, since you can’t renew if someone else has requested the item.
4. Those special, sturdy, brightly-coloured library bags that the friends of the library sell are really worth the expense.  We use many cloth bags each week for many different things. Reserving the bright blue ones for library books helps to locate them. We still have to be vigilant about putting the books back into the bags, of course.

So, these are the things that work for me this Wednesday. For more tips, visit Rocks in My Dryer.